The Defense Information Systems Agency and the Government Accountability Office have both ramped up videoconferencing apps for their remote workers.
As COVID-19 forces government to shift employees to remote work, agencies are also rapidly adapting to new collaborative applications. However, the impact of those tools on security and efficiency is just beginning to be understood.
Over the past 18 months, the shift to cloud at the Defense Information Systems Agency has been accelerating, but demands related to COVID are pushing things even faster, DISA’s Chief of Cloud Services John Hale said.
"We shifted to online teleconferencing faster than anticipated, using commercial virtual remote applications," Hale said at a virtual event hosted by GovExec. "That shifted the demand signal" at the agency. "What used to be 'nice-to-have,' is now ingrained as mission critical."
The Government Accountability Office’s experience with transitioning to remote work has been similar, and it is already feeling pressure to evolve the remote capabilities it has rolled out, said Vijay D'Souza, GAO’s director of IT and cybersecurity.
"We deployed a new videoconferencing system before" the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, and maximum telework has "put that to the test," pumping up demand from GAO employees. Although the existing capabilities "are light years ahead" of what the agency was using, the agency is finding "it's not enough," said D'Souza.
Younger workers long familiar with video chats and applications on their own devices are looking for similar capabilities from the agency, he said.
D'Souza also said that GAO saw a 130% increase last fall in the use of the General Services Administration's Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program cloud security assessment program.
As agencies move to cloud, they are getting a better grasp that the responsibility to secure their data is not up to the cloud provider, according to D'Souza. "Agencies have to understand that [security] is split between the provider and agency," he said.
GAO is taking a cross-government look at how agencies are using collaborative IT to facilitate a remote workforce in response to the pandemic. That report, he said, should be out "in the next few months."
This article was first posted to FCW, a sibling site to GCN.